Imperial AcademyA ~ Z

Introducing the Imperial Academy (Guozijian)

The Imperial Academy, also named Guozijian, was the imperial college during the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties (although most of its buildings were built during the Ming Dynasty). And it is the last Guozijian of China and is an important national cultural heritage. In 1898, the Guozijian was disbanded during the Hundred Days Reform of the Qing Dynasty, and it was replaced by the Imperial Capital University, later known as the Beijing University.

The "Guozijian", often translated into English as the Imperial Academy or Imperial College was the national central institute of learning in ancient Chinese dynasties. It was the highest institute of learning in China's traditional educational system. Emperors in imperial China would also frequently visit the Guozijian to read Confucian classics to thousands of students. The Guozijian was first built in 1306 and was reconstructed and renovated on a large scale during Emperor Yongle (1402-1424) and Zhengtong (1436-1449) reigns of the Ming Dynasty. The administrative officials of Guozijian were called Jijiu (the chief), Siye (Dean of Studies) and Jiancheng etc. The students who studied at the Guozijian were called Jiansheng, and they mainly studied Confucian classics. The Guozijian is situated at the central area of the Guozijian Street and adjoining several other well known imperial structures of Beijing, and the complex of Guozijian accords with the Chinese tradition which dictate that the temple should be on the "left" and the school or college on the "right". To the east of the Guozijian, lies the Confucius Temple, the second largest Confucius temples in all of China and the Yonghegong Temple, the largest Lama Temple in Beijing.

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Biyong is the most important building in Guozijian. It was once a stage for the emperor, and was used exclusively by him. Constructed in 1784, Biyong is a square wooden structure with a double-eaved pyramid roof covered with yellow glazed tiles. The top of the hall is crowned by a gilded ball. Biyong stands in the center of a circular pond, which is crossed by four marble bridges and fenced by white stone balustrades. It was here that Emperor Qianlong came to expound the classics to civil and military officials from the imperial court, as well as students of the Imperial College in the 50th year of his reign (1785). Thereafter, the succeeding Qing Emperor Jiajing and Daoguang also came and gave lectures here.

Additional Information

Imperial Examination

There were four levels of exams in China: the Prefectural Examination; the Provincial Examination; Metropolitan Examination and the highest level - Imperial Examination which was presided over by the emperor. For every three years, 300 scholars from all parts of China came to Beijing and took part in the Imperial Examination for 3 days. The Imperial Examination was under the supervision of the emperor himself. Those who passed the exam would get honorable tiles and become high-ranking officials. The top three scholars who passed the exam would not only get the honorable title, but also were allowed to go through the Forbidden City from the central gate and would also have the honor to be received in audience by the emperor. After that, in order to be known to the public, the scholars would ride down the street on a walking horse which was considered be the greatest honor for the scholars in the past. The Imperial Examination system in China started from 587, during the Sui Dynasty (581- 618). The purpose of the exam was to select the ministers and high-ranking officials from those Confucian scholars. The Imperial Examination system was further improved in the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907) and continued until 1905 in the Qing Dynasty.

Opening Hours

Entrance: 08:30 –17:00

Last Entry: 15:30


Entrance Fee: ¥ 30


No.13 Guozijian, Andingmennei, Dongcheng District, Beijing


Getting There


Line 2 Yonghegong Station Exit C

Line 5 Yonghegong Station Exit D



(Please take me to the Confucius Temple Guozijian)

Travel Tips

Confucius Temple and Imperial Academy are connected inside.

Confucius Temple and Imperial Academy are closed on Mondays during off season.

Last Updated

2018-05-03 21:55:48

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